The Indians look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead, while the Blue Jays will try to draw even with a split on the road, as the clubs meet for Game 2 of the American League Championship Series at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday on TBS and Sportsnet and RDS
The Indians look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead, while the Blue Jays will try to draw even with a split on the road, as the clubs meet for Game 2 of the American League Championship Series at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday on TBS and Sportsnet and RDS in Canada.
Cleveland took Game 1, 2-0, behind a dominant outing from ace Corey Kluber and a two-run blast by shortstop Francisco Lindor, despite Marco Estrada's first career complete game.
Toronto will send veteran left-hander and AL Cy Young Award candidate J.A. Happ to the mound at Progressive Field. The Tribe counters with right-hander Josh Tomlin, who will be making just his second career postseason start.
:: ALCS: Blue Jays vs. Indians coverage ::
Let's take a look at how these two stack up against each other:
Happ: 20-4, 3.18 ERA, 195 IP, 163 K
Tomlin: 13-9, 4.40 ERA, 174 IP, 118 K
Happ against the Indians
2016: 1 GS, 1-0, 1.29 ERA, 7 IP, 11 K, 0 BB
Career: 6 G, 5 GS, 3-1, 2.86 ERA, 28 1/3 IP, 25 K, 7 BB
Loves to face:Brandon Guyer, .125 (2-for-16); Coco Crisp, .182 (2-for-11); Rajai Davis, .111 (1-for-9)
Hates to face:Carlos Santana, .400 (4-for-10); Jason Kipnis, .333 (3-for-9), three doubles; Mike Napoli, .316 (6-for-19)
Why he'll win: The 2016 version of Happ has arguably been one of baseball's biggest surprises, but also one of the game's most consistent performers. Happ finished the season with 21 quality starts, second on the team behind Aaron Sanchez. Including the postseason, the Blue Jays have gone 25-8 in games started by Happ this year. That includes wins in 10 of Happ's past 11 road starts.
Pitcher beware: Happ tiptoed into and out of trouble against the Rangers in Game 2 of the AL Division Series. Although he allowed just one run over five innings, he gave up nine hits and stranded two runners in each of the first four innings of that outing. That formula could prove detrimental against the Indians' high-powered offense, which finished second in the AL in runs scored.
Bottom line: If Happ can provide the Blue Jays with his regular-season consistency, Toronto should be in solid shape to steal a game on the road. If not, expect Cleveland's balanced lineup to punish the lefty early and often.
Tomlin against the Blue Jays
2016: 2 GS, 0-1, 6.10 ERA, 10 1/3 IP, 13 K, 3 BB
Career: 5 GS, 1-1, 5.53 ERA, 27 2/3 IP, 27 K, 7 BB
Loves to face:Russell Martin, .167 (2-for-12); Michael Saunders .167 (2-for-12) ; Ezequiel Carrera .000 (0-for-5)
Hates to face:Troy Tulowitzki, .400 (4-for-10); Edwin Encarnacion .300 (3-for-10), HR; Devon Travis .600 (3-for-5), 2 RBIs
Why he'll win: Tomlin appears to have saved his best for last, pitching to a 1.69 ERA from the start of September until the end of the regular season. He carried that momentum into Game 3 of the ALDS in front a raucous crowd at Fenway Park, holding the Red Sox's potent bats to two runs over five solid frames. A similar outing against the Blue Jays would pass the baton to Cleveland's dominant bullpen, a scary proposition for Toronto.
Pitcher beware: Tomlin is no stranger to surrendering home runs, after finishing the season second in the AL with 36 long balls allowed. That won't do the job against a Toronto lineup that feasts off home runs. The Blue Jays crushed four home runs off Tomlin in the regular season, with three of those coming during an Aug. 20 start at Progressive Field. Toronto finished third in the AL with 221 home runs during the regular season and left the yard eight times against Texas in the ALDS.
Bottom line: Tomlin will need to keep the ball in the yard against a Blue Jays offense that relies on home runs. Limiting Toronto to solo shots and keeping runners off base will go a long way toward the Indians heading north of the border with a 2-0 series lead.
*Alykhan Ravjiani * is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.